The sky was still dark as I left the house this morning. When I went overseas just three weeks ago the sun had already risen by this time and I was walking in dawn’s early light. But summer has given way to fall and the nights have quickly grown longer. I press “play” in my Bible app and set out.
I round a bend and in the corner of my eye see an unusually bright star in the southern sky. I make a note to look it up when I return, though I know I’ll probably have forgotten by then. I realize my mind has wandered and while I still hear David Cochran Heath’s voice in my AirPods, I have lost track of chapter and verse. “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD,” I hear him say, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch…” Ah yes, Jeremiah 23, one of the sweetest chapters in the whole book. “And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness.’”
My plan prompts me to skip ahead to Jeremiah 26, then to Psalm 77 and James 2. When I’ve heard “for as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead” it is time to pray and, as it happens, to turn to the southeast. I begin to thank the Lord for giving me the precious gift of faith and to ask him to help me be diligent in showing my faith by my works. As I glance toward where the sun will soon rise, I see that the sky has begun to turn shades of pink and purple.
I spend some time confessing sin and making requests on behalf of family members, and while I do so the sky continues to brighten. As I begin to pray for the people in my church, the pinks and purples push higher into the sky while the horizon begins to glow a dull and then bright orange, like someone is slowly turning a dial to increase the intensity of the colors. It is quickly turning into one of the most stunning sunrises I have ever seen.
I am now into the final blocks of my walk and, though I have to head west, I can barely bring myself to turn my back to the wonder of that rising sun. Again and again, I stop to turn around and admire it for a few more moments. I am tempted to snap a photo, but I know there is no camera sensor in the world capable of capturing so many colors and such dynamic range. I find myself wondering about the human eye and about how much of the beauty is escaping me because of the limitations of my humanity. I wonder if God is laughing with joy right now at the wonder of what he has created, of what he has painted across a southern Ontario sky.
And as I approach my home I have this thought: God loves to add a little extra beauty. God could have made every time of day the same, but he gives sunrises—he adds a little extra beauty. He could have made every drink as plain as water, but he gives us coffee—he adds a little extra beauty. He could have made every piece of music have just a melody, but he gives us harmony—he adds a little extra beauty. He gives us peacocks, rainbow boas, and parrotfish, he gives us orchids, hibiscus, and bird of paradise flowers, he gives us the seasonings that combine to make Thai red curry, to make Vietnamese pho, and, best of all, to make Indian butter chicken. He adds a little extra beauty to excite our senses and delight our hearts.
Today I am delighting not only in beauty, but in that extra little bit of beauty God so often chooses to display. And I find the challenge growing within: If God chooses to add a little extra beauty, shouldn’t I? In those matters God calls me to do, shouldn’t I go beyond merely getting them done and instead add an extra bit of effort? Wouldn’t I be most closely imitating him if I went beyond merely completing the task and chose instead to do it with joy, with excellence, with a desire to in some way make it beautiful? With that on my heart, my walk closes with a prayer: “God, in whatever it is you call me to do today, let me add a little extra beauty.”